Returning Home

Harper’s Weekly sent Winslow Homer to the front lines to sketch camp life and battle scenes throughout the war, but in this June 1863 illustration, “Home From the War,” Homer celebrated soldiers reuniting with their loved ones. Readers would have known, however, that more than likely such soldiers would soon leave for another tour of duty from which they might not return.

“Home From the War”

Winslow Homer, “Home From the War” from Harper's Weekly
New York: Harper's Magazine Co., June 13, 1863
Newberry folio A 5 .392 v. 7

Grand reviews like this one depicted in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper occurred frequently across Northern cities and towns during the summer of 1865.

"Home From the Wars: Grand Review of the Returned Armies of the United States"

"Home From the Wars: Grand Review of the Returned Armies of the United States" from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
New York: Frank Leslie, June 10, 1865
Newberry oversize A 5 .34 v. 20

Songs such as When This War Is Over I Will Come Back to Thee expressed soldiers’ longing to return as the war dragged into its second year.

When This War Is Over I Will Come Back to Thee

M. A. Geuville and Ferdinand Mayer, When This War Is Over I Will Come Back to Thee
Boston: Henry Tolman & Co., 1863
Newberry Case 8A 376
Gift of the family of James Francis Driscoll

Titles published in 1865—including Home the Boys Are Marching; or, Ring The Merry Bells and Coming Home; or, “The Cruel War Is Over”—celebrate the end of the four-year ordeal.

Home the Boys Are Marching; or, Ring the Merry Bells

F. Wilmarth, Home the Boys Are Marching; or, Ring the Merry Bells
Boston: Oliver Ditson & Co., 1865
Newberry Case 8A 328
Gift of the family of James Francis Driscoll

Coming Home; or, “The Cruel War Is Over” lauds the return of husbands, sons, and brothers with the lyrics:

Boys, don’t keep us waiting, quickly march along!
Loving ones are watching at the door
Listening for footsteps since the early dawn
Come and live in peace forevermore

Coming home, coming home, don’t you hear the drum?
Yes, they’re coming home, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The cruel war is over, the noble work is done
They’re coming, they are coming from the war.

Coming Home; or, "The Cruel War Is Over"

Charles C. Sawyer, Coming Home; or, "The Cruel War Is Over"
Boston: Oliver Ditson & Co., 1865
Newberry Case 8A 316
Gift of the family of James Francis Driscoll